In-depth reporting on Nepal’s elections

Most English-language media in Kathmandu reporting on ongoing local elections have limited themselves to noting the numerical quotas for low-caste, ‘Dalit’, candidates.

But the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) went a step further by interviewing a group of Dalit women in Saptari district, including candidates, voters and would-be voters. (Why would someone be a ‘would-be’ voter? Click on the article link below to find out). Continue reading

Whose story is it anyway?

 

LoveInBinauna

Female community health volunteers (FCHVs) from Binauna VDC having a laugh – at my expense if I remember correctly.

Please indulge me as I navel-gaze briefly.

I last worked full-time as a journalist in 2007, but I’m proud to tell people that I think I’ll always be a journalist at heart. One implication is that when I visit a place like Binauna VDC*, in Banke district in south western Nepal, I am automatically sniffing for stories. Continue reading

No burning cruisers, but more arrests over shale gas in New Brunswick

You wouldn’t know it from reading Canada’s ‘national media’, but the confrontation over shale gas exploration in New Brunswick is continuing, watched over by a hefty police presence. A clash between police and aboriginal protesters opposed to the exploration made the news in October when the demonstrators set police cruisers alight.

Pictures of anything burning are great for media ratings.

But this issue deserves more than fleeting attention. Five people were arrested at the site Friday for trying to stop the work, by Houston-based SWN Resources Canada. SWN obtained an injunction against the demonstrators on Nov. 22 and is seeking an extension next Monday, according to APTN news.

Earlier in the week a local journalist was arrested, for the third time, while covering the protests.

Journalist Miles Howe arrested for covering anti-fracking protests

Journalist Miles Howe of Halifax Media Co-op was arrested covering the protests, for the 3rd time, on Nov. 26. (c) Allan Marsh, Acadie Nouvelle

What’s happening at Elsipogtog deserves more attention from the mainstream media not only because of these arrests but because shale gas exploitation is increasing in North America, but remains controversial. Continue reading

Nepal’s journalists still targets of political parties

Two dozen journalists in Far West Nepal were forced to flee their towns and villages last week after threats from individuals linked to the Maoist party that rules from the capital Kathmandu.

Read this summary from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

This sort of political interference in Nepal’s media has been going on for years – practised by all political parties – and, sadly, shows little signs of improving. When I lived in Kathmandu (2005-10) I participated in a few of the numerous meetings between the international community and media organizations to try and find solutions to the problem but none of them seems to have had much impact.

Nepal was ranked 118th among the world’s countries in the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday, a drop of 12 places from 2011.

“The ability of journalists to work freely in Pakistan and Nepal continued to worsen in the absence of any government policy to protect media workers.”

– World Press Freedom Index, 2012.

Why are Nepal’s political players able to target the country’s journalists with such impunity? Is it because the tiny country is such a minor player in the world that the international community doesn’t really care? Or the inverse: that because Nepal is situated so strategically – between China and India – and is used to playing the Asian giants off of one another, that it has no fear of threats from the rest of the international community?

Whatever the cause(s), it is beyond time that Nepal’s journalists were able to practise their trade without fearing for their lives.

Did the poll really find ”hardened” attitudes toward aboriginal Canadians?

Poll_hardened_160113

(c) Oiwi TV.

That’s what the headline on the Globe and Mail website said on Wednesday, and that was also the lead of the news release on the Ipsos-Reid website:

“Last week’s protests by First Nations activists appear to have had a hardening effect on Canadian public opinion regarding Aboriginal issues, according to a new poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the National Post/Postmedia News and Global Television.”

I know very little about polling but when I read through the release, I started to wonder about that lead. Here’s what I found:

1 result that found attitudes had hardened compared to earlier responses to the same question:
•    “Most of the problems of native peoples are brought on by themselves (60% nationally, up 25 points from 35% in 1989.”

3 results that found attitudes unchanged or softened:
•    “While there’s general support for resolving land claims to provide Aboriginal Peoples with the land and resources needed to become self-sufficient (63%) and for the federal government to act now to raise the quality of life for Aboriginal peoples (63%, unchanged from July 2010).”
•    “Canada’s Aboriginal peoples receive too much support from Canadian taxpayers. Two thirds (64%) nationally share this view — unchanged from July 2012.”
•    “Canada’s Aboriginal peoples are treated well by the Canadian Government. Two thirds (62%) nationally share this sentiment, down from 66% in July 2012.” Continue reading

Hockey deaths overshadow First Nations’ tragedy

This week, Canada’s national media has been awash with news about the death of another professional hockey player – the third in 4 months.

Like the others, Wade Belak was an ‘enforcer’, a player put on a team’s roster to physically intimidate opponents and protect his more skilled teammates, often by dropping his gloves and fighting other teams’ enforcers.

Belak killed himself, and his death signals an urgent need to assess the support that is being offered to these players, both during and after their careers.

Five other deaths, including one this week, have received much less attention.

In less than two months, 4 teenage girls and a 26-year-old man have killed themselves in the Pikangikum First Nations reserve in northwestern Ontario, according to an official there.

Pikangikum, an isolated northern community 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, is no stranger to suicide. In 2000, 8 young girls living in the community took their own lives. A 2004 article in the Canadian Journal of Native Studies said Pikangikum had a suicide rate of 470 deaths per 100,000, which is one of the highest in the world, and 36 times the national average, reported the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

“We have no running water. We have no sewer system. We have 2,400 people living in 400 homes,” a Pikangikum official told the Citizen. “And the government is nowhere to be seen.

“Most of the youth don’t have any privacy, even in their own homes. Most of them have to share rooms,” added the official.

Whatever the reasons for this long-running tragedy – and they are bound to be many and complex – it certainly merits the sort of attention that the media has been focusing on the hockey deaths this week.

Read a report released by Ontario’s Chief Coroner on Friday

Listen to CBC radio’s interview with Ontario’s Chief Coroner.

Why one journalist in Malawi matters

Malawi journalist Collins Mtika

Here’s a well-written account of the arrest and mistreatment by police of an ‘ordinary’ journalist in Malawi just doing his job – reporting on protests.

“My friend and journalist colleague in Malawi, Collins Mtika, was released from jail yesterday. I took notice of Collins arrest last week thanks to Sika Holman …”

Read the full blog here.